When most of us think of the holidays we look forward to bounty of food and presents, but for many families of limited means it is a struggle to provide such an ideal time. The Dewey Beach Lions Club is helping some of those families through its Operation Santa event.
The Lions met Dec. 6 at their clubhouse accompanied by family members to wrap gifts for several families around the Cape Region.
Woody Stocks, the current King Lion, said, “We’ve joined up with the local school district to find needy kids and we buy presents for the families. We’re not giving to a charity; we’re giving directly to the families.”
Chris Moody is the chairperson for the committee that organizes Operation Santa. He and his wife Stephanie have been managing the event for several years now and says that it’s one of the Lions Club’s biggest events.
“Stephanie contacts all of the schools and works out the details,” explained Chris. Working with social workers at Rehoboth Elementary, Milton Elementary and H.O. Brittingham, Stephanie Moody establishes what the families need and what the children want for Christmas. She said the social workers are a real help to the operation, gathering all of the information from the students and families.
This year Operation Santa will be helping 12 families and over 35 children have a happy holiday.
“We organize a shopping night at Walmart. Everyone who comes takes a family and we all shop for each family based on their needs,” Moody said. He added that they spend hours shopping and that it’s a lot of fun.
“We get them clothes and things like that that they need, and toys they know they would never have; we’ve bought bikes,” Moody said. In addition to buying toys and clothes, Lions Club members also buy dinners and gift cards for the families so they can have a nice dinner as well.
When the needs have been assessed and the gifts have been purchased, those participating in the event bring all of the presents back to the Lions clubhouse where they have dinner, listen to Christmas music and wrap the presents. Afterward, the social workers handle the distribution.
T.J. Redefer, another member of the Lions Club, commented on contributions young men like Moody make to the club, “What’s nice is over the years we have young guys who come along and still have the strength to do this; you have even more people who complete the turnout.”
Operation Santa has been a part of that goal for over 20 years and is just one of the many events the Dewey Beach Lions Club holds to help residents in the beach area.
“We really try to do more for our community,” Redefer said.